Friday, May 13, 2011

My Good Fortune

From time to time, when a "fortune" in a fortune cookie entertains me, I keep the little slip of paper, although I don't always keep track of it after that. Years ago, I was in the habit of taping strange or funny fortunes to postcards and mailing them to friends, but that was back when I sent real mail and had stamps lying around on a regular basis.

Recently, I was looking for something and sort of tidying my office at the same time -- not in a particularly effectual way, but it does look a bit better when the piles of desk-stuff are neater, if not fewer or smaller -- and I found a cache of fortunes that had somehow collected in an office-eddy. I am not entirely sure I meant to keep each of these, but together they represent some important advice about Life and Other Things. If I followed the advice on these little slips of paper, I would be a better person, and I would have more fun.

The fortunes can be divided into categories:

ADVICE: HOW TO BE A BETTER PERSON (or professor)

Your message must focus on the receiver. Ignore yourself.

I remember getting this fortune while I was working on a grant proposal; I think that is why I kept it. Substitute "reviewer" for "receiver".

Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.

In fact, I regularly slay the dragon of delay, but some people I work with are really really good friends with this dragon and keep it as sort of a pet (you know who you are).

Your wit is sharp and quick. Avoid using sarcasm on an unsuspecting victim.
..... [<-- note that I am taking this fortune to heart right here, right now]


I SEE TRAVEL IN YOUR FUTURE

Ancient sites beckon you to hit the road soon. You will soon be crossing great ocean waters for an incredibly rewarding experience.

I love to travel, I love ancient sites. They beckon.


.. AND GRANTS

Your original ideas will get you well-deserved recognition.

I was writing a grant proposal when I got that fortune as well. I just don't remember if I got that particular grant. I should be more scientific about this. Do I get more grants after getting fortunes like that one, or do I eat more Chinese food when I am working on a proposal?


BUT SOMETIMES I GET A FORTUNE INTENDED FOR SOMEONE ELSE

Your sparkling eyes shed a healing light on those you meet.

You will advance socially without effort on your part.

ha ha ha ha ha ha

Happy Friday the 13th.

12 comments:

unlikelygrad said...

We used to keep a stash of fortune cookies so we could open them at opportune times (like before a big shindig).

Also: each member of the family would open their own fortune cookie at midnight on New Year's. This was always good for a laugh. One year my pre-teen got one which said, "Romance will be coming your way soon!" He groaned and rolled his eyes, while his much-older brother looked at him somewhat enviously...

Female Post-doc said...

I keep random ones over the years too.

This is the one I have kept and pinned up at my desk since starting my post-doc:
Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal. You will succeed.

I think it is inspirational. :-)

Anonymous said...

I sweat the chinese restaurant has a special stash of cookies just for grad students (which I have also held on to). "You have had a good start. Work harder!" mid-slump post excellent annual review. "What is not started will never get finished" procrastinating on some writing... Uncanny sometimes.

M. S. AtKisson said...

The one I had through grad school, and is still on my desk reads: "An easy life does not teach anything."

Seems to fit for anyone involved in an academic career.

Anonymous said...

My favorite fortune was a back-handed one:

"Your success will amaze everyone."

Anonymous said...

One of my favorites is

"Endurance and persistence will be rewarded"

Anonymous said...

My grad school has a grad student appreciation week, and one year they gave us all fortune cookies with appropriate fortunes like "you are one day closer to graduating" or "your next publication will be highly cited". It was awesome.

John V said...

On my door is one reading You will go far, but be sure to come back. It seems sagacious.

Anonymous said...

It's not very pithy, but I did like "You will have gold pieces by the bushel".

RJ said...

Dear FSP,

I thought you'd like this comic.

http://xkcd.com/896/

Jeralyn said...

When I was just starting grad school and deciding which lab to join I received a "fortune" in a Magic Hat bottle cap that said, "Adore our spores." It was completely apropos, since I am a microbiologist, and i kept it for a long time. Ultimately, it did not help me choose my lab, since I was deciding between one group that worked on yeast and one that worked on Bacillus (ironically, both organisms sporulate - not a particularly common feature in the micro world)!

Anonymous said...

About a week before my dissertation defense, I received a fortune cookie with the following fortune:

"Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from miles away to watch you burn."

It's distressing to think about people watching you burn at any time, but it was particularly unnerving a week before my defense.